Vitamin fix via sunbed use slammed by ASA over immune strengthening claims
The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) deemed a post on its Facebook page was ‘misleading’ and ‘irresponsible’ as it claimed vitamin D3-enriched UV light generated by its sunbeds could also improve blood circulation and benefits those with heart disease.
“The ASA acknowledged that Jetsun Sunbeds had subsequently amended some claims so that they read more cautiously,” the judgement reads.
“Nevertheless, we considered consumers would interpret the ad to mean that there were health benefits to be gained from using sunbeds.
“The National Health Service (NHS) advice was cautious about the use of sunbeds. Given the potentially serious consequences for people who used sunbeds because they believed there would be health benefits, we concluded that, as well as not being substantiated, the claims were irresponsible.”
VITAMIN – FOR YOUR LIFE
The ruling refers to the post seen on 1 Oct 2020 that was headed, “jetsun tanning and beauty” and showed an image of brain activity; a sunbed interior that included the words “VITAMIN – FOR YOUR LIFE.”
Text stated “Strengthen your immune system the natural way as its meant to be with sunlight [sic] the health benefits from sunlight are enormous and crucial to life on earth … Sunlight creates a hydrophilic action in your capillaries to move your blood round the body, important if you have heart disease …
More text states, “Vitamin D3 may help strengthen your immune system. May help Prevention [sic] of all cause[s of] mortality [sic] … May improve brain function and production of Serotonin and melatonin and may help with Alzheimer’s. Plus, you look better and feel better”.
ASA stated it had received a complainant that challenged whether linking claims for health benefits with the use of sunbeds was misleading and irresponsible.
Responding to the concerns, Burnely-based Jetsun Sunbeds referred to the work of Professor Michael Horlick and German New Medicine as evidence of health benefits linked to the use of sunbeds.
The firm also referred to online videos by Dr Thomas Cowan and Dr Gerald Pollack which they believed to be proof from the medical community of the positive effects of UV light on the bloodstream.
In response, ASA considered the submitted evidence to be inadequate, commenting that for health-related claims, a ‘high level of evidence,’ was required that consisted of studies and trials showing these benefits were obtained by humans from sunbeds.
“However, Jetsun Sunbeds had supplied no evidence of that kind. Of the online videos they referred to, Dr Thomas Cowan’s contained no references to health benefits from sunlight or sunbeds.
“Dr Gerald Pollack's spoke of the positive effect of sunlight, especially with the addition of heat, but there was no information about how a similar effect could be obtained from sunbeds.”
“We therefore considered the information Jetsun Sunbeds had supplied to support the claims was not sufficient.”
In considering the advice given by the NHS, it warned that the UV rays given out by sunbeds increased the risk of developing skin cancer and that many sunbeds gave out greater doses of UV rays than midday tropical sun.
ASA quoted information provided by the British Association of Dermatologists that stated, "There are no potential health benefits that cannot be more safely and effectively obtained through other means, and any health benefits are debatable, thus such claims should be prevented.
“Given the absence of convincing evidence from Jetsun Sunbeds, and the caution urged by the advice from the NHS, we considered the claims that sunbeds provided health benefits were not substantiated.”
ASA concluded its decision by instructing the ad not to appear again in its current form, adding, “We told Jetsun Sunbeds to ensure their ads did not misleadingly and irresponsibly claim or imply that health benefits were obtained from sunbeds unless they held adequate evidence.”